AJEC Vol. 42 No. 3 – Is New Zealand a world leader in early childhood education? An examination of the empirical evidence in recent reports
Department of Education
Unitec Institute of Technology
New Zealand has a reputation for being a world leader in early childhood education (ECE); a reputation built on the development of innovative policies, high participation rates, high levels of teacher education, and the implementation of a national curriculum, Te Whāriki. A number of national and international reports have been used to support statements about the high quality of ECE in New Zealand. A closer examination of these reports, however, shows they provide insufficient attention to empirical information about children’s learning and in some cases appear to be based on opinion rather than evidence. This article suggests that a downside of the belief that New Zealand is a world leader in ECE is that it may lead to complacency and a lack of willingness towards making evidence-based changes that could improve the wellbeing and learning of young children.